This draft might not possess a better pure goal scorer than Owen Tippett. His combination of speed, power and a deadly shot that many consider the best in his class make him a threat to score on any shift in a number of different ways.
If you’re a fan of throwback hockey, you’ll love Tippett’s game. I don’t necessarily think I’d describe him as a power forward, but he plays that kind of bull in a china shop brand of hockey that can lend itself to that style of player. I just so happen to be a fan of that style of hockey, and I can honestly say there’s no prospect I more thoroughly enjoyed watching than Tippett.
Industry consensus kept Tippett right around the top five of his class for most of the season — though I should add, there are big-time Tippett detractors. Through no fault of his own, Tippett’s fallen, sometimes significantly, in the eyes of many analysts. I think that’s more a byproduct of last risers than Tippett’s own play. The Nation Network consensus ranking has Tippett as the 13th overall prospect in his class.
- Age: 18-years-old, 1999-02-16
- Birthplace: Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
- Position: RW
- Handedness: R
- Height: 6’2″
- Weight: 203 lbs
- Draft Year Team: Mississauga Steelheads – OHL
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The cousin of the No. 33 overall pick in 2015, Mitchell Stephens (Tampa Bay Lightning), Tippett is a very exciting winger to watch. He was a dominant goal scorer this season, due to both the quality and quantity of shots on goal. Tippett is one of the best speedsters in the draft class. His ability to go from 0 to 60 — metaphorically speaking, though he’s darn quick — is very impressive, and he can gain the offensive blue line with ease. He has a high skill level and can make some open-ice plays, but he’s much more comfortable going north-south than east-west. He can kill penalties due to his speed and IQ, and can be a shorthanded scoring threat while doing so. Tippett’s game is more about playing in straight lines, but don’t let his very tilted goal-to-assist ratio fool you, as he can make plays to his teammates too, a facet of his game that improved as the season went on.
Mississauga Steelhead hard-shooting winger Owen Tippett, who also happens to be the cousin of Tampa prospect and London Knight Mitchell Stephens. Tippett’s range of votes was from three to 13.
Rugged goal scorer with a lethal shot who produced one of the best wire-to-wire seasons of any 2017 draft prospect. A power forward who can skate extremely well and has tremendous balance and agility, Tippett led the Steelheads with 44 goals and 284 shots. He’s a tenacious goal scorer with a strong desire to succeed. Tippett has an excellent shot and bullies his way into any scoring area to get his stick on the puck. He’s certainly benefitted from flanking a high-end playmaker like Mike McLeod, but he takes a never-say-die approach to every shift and proved to be a low-maintenance goal scorer as the season progressed.
There isn’t a better winger in this year’s class. To that exact end, I think you can attest Tippett’s lowered rankings here and in other publications to the reality that he doesn’t play a premier position. Tippett led first-time draft eligible in five-on-five goals, was third in five-on-five primary point product and second among in the OHL in five-on-five estimated shots per sixty minutes.
I spent much of the season with the conviction that Tippett was the best draft eligible player from the OHL period. It wasn’t until the season’s end that I changed my view of him. Still, I think that certain segments of the scouting community and even ourselves have him just a bit low for my tastes.
Tippett’s detractors often suggest that he’s a one-dimensional player, and that’s what’s kept him from remaining among the top of his class. They see a straight-line goal scorer, only capable of creating offence off the rush. Then there’s the issue of his defensive zone play.
The notion that Tippett is a one-trick pony offensively is, in my estimation, patently false. He’s at his best when he can attack the offensive zone with speed — this much is true. His ability to contribute offensively doesn’t end there, though. Tippett is a tenacious forechecker, willing and capable of digging the puck out himself from below the hash marks. On the power play, Tippett spent his time as the trigger man from the point. A player that shoots as often as Tippett does, from as many parts of the ice as Tippett does, doesn’t meet my qualifications for being “one-dimensional”.
Similarly, I’m not sure I agree with my peers who point to Tippett’s defensive shortcomings as a reason for concern. He’s a terribly fast player, and that gives him the ability to cover a tonne of ice and apply pressure in the defensive zone. The Steelheads used Tippett on their penalty kill, often on the first unit. The Steelheads controlled 15.59% more goals at five-on-five this season with Tippett on the ice as opposed to the bench.
The one concern I share with parts of the scouting community is about Tippett’s mental makeup. Sometimes he can seem entirely disengaged. The night in and night out effort level can often wane. Mostly, I worry about how easily opposition defenders can take Tippett off his game. In the Steelheads playoff run, those disciplinary issues came to the front on many an occasion.
The totality of Tippett’s abilities override any concerns I might have, though. Tippett’s offensive toolkit, hockey IQ and skating make him a player that I consider a solid bet to become an elite offensive player at the professional level. You can fix the elements of his game that need work, but there’s no teaching a player to see the ice as well as Tippett does, and he has all the physical tools to capitalize on that vision, too.
When we view Tippett’s draft season through the lens of pGPS, he carries a 65.8% Expected Success. The successful members of Tippett’s cohort carry an Expected Points per 82 games of 50.2, which checks out as a first line rate. His pGPS career assignment is that of a second line forward.
A player with Tippett’s production, sterling underlying metrics and physical tools shouldn’t last terribly long through the first round of the draft. There’s every reason for a team to take him in the top ten. If he’s there past the point, teams should run to the floor to make the call. He’s going to be a hell of a player.